Author Archives: BYU Political Science

Public Affairs Lecture Series: Neylan McBaine


Neylan McBaine, Co-founder and CEO of Better Days 2020, and founder of the Mormon Women Project, delivered an inspiring presentation for the Public Affairs Lecture Series on Thursday, February 8, 2018, at the Kennedy Center conference room, 238 HRCB. She spoke about being raised by an opera singer and a Wall Street attorney in New York City, studying at Yale University, and working at in digital marketing. Currently she heads up the Better Days 2020 organization, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of women first voting in Utah (the first women to vote in the modern United States of America) and the centennial of the 19th Amendment, offering women the right to vote, and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement in the US. She is helping pass legislation to send the statue of Martha Hughes Cannon, Utah’s first elected State Senator (the first in the country), to Washington, DC to stand in place of Philo T. Farnsworth (the “father of television”) in the main National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill, not far from the statue of Brigham Young.

She advised BYU students that it is possible to do something so interesting, and so different, from your original plan and formal education, different than anything you have ever planned before, and she wished she had been told that as a young student. She was raised to become a doctor, lawyer or investment banker. Those were her only options, at least that’s what she thought, as a Yale student with professional parents in New York City. Being an advocate for women was not on the table. She became a primary parent of three daughters while her husband worked, and as he studied at Harvard, and she had no model for how to juggle a career and marriage and a family.

Her advice to students: Get a strong foundation with the best education available, and the best job possible at the beginning of a career; find out what makes you happy; determine what success means to you (this takes courage), and it might be something other than making money, like, family, public speaking, managing people, teaching, etc.; be the kind of person you want to be, no matter your profession, things will build on each other if you are true to yourself; and be grateful for the unscripted changes that force you to be creative and to find out what makes you happy. Finally, she learned how to write well, and that was the most important thing to do in order to become a professional: learn how to craft an argument and write concisely.

Thank you, Neylan, for a wonderful presentation.

Public Affairs Lecture Series: Taryn Davis Holland

Taryn Davis Holland

On Thursday, February 1st, 2018, Taryn Davis Holland spoke to us via video call as part of the BYU Public Affairs Society lecture series. Taryn is a senior associate at Development Gateway and manages several large-scale technical projects focused on aid information and financial and geospatial data.

In her lecture, Taryn spoke about the importance of transparency when working with clients. She explained that one way she practices this is by writing blog posts to update clients on the progress of their current projects.

When talking about working with clients, Taryn stressed the importance of asking what it is that the client wants you do accomplish–what problem do they need solved?

After working at with the Red Cross in Provo, Taryn moved to Washington D.C. in search of a job. After running into some old coworkers, she found out about a job and applied at Development Gateway. After a fellowship in Laos, she was offered a full-time position with Development Gateway. Taryn credited some of her success to the importance of networking with as many people was possible, because you never know where it may lead.

She advised students to “be where you want to work.”

Thank you, Taryn Davis Holland, for giving us your time and advice.


Taryn suggested the following links as future job and internship resources for those interested in non-profit and international development:


Speed Mentoring Event 2018, Utah State Capital


On Thursday evening, January 25th, 2018, forty-four professionals from government, law and business met with appx. 50 BYU Political Science students at the annual “Speed Mentoring Event” at the Utah State Capital. BYU students received hands-on mentoring at five-minute intervals, with as many professionals as time would permit, discussing advice on their careers and education.

Prior to the mentoring event, students toured the beautiful Utah State Capital building and received advice from three professional panel members. The event was exciting, practical, and supremely beneficial to students as they plan their professional lives.

Thank you especially to the Michael and Liz Mower family for organizing and overseeing this amazing event.

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Public Affairs Lecture Series: Rich McKeown

Rich McKeown (2)

On Thursday January 18, 2017, Rich McKeown, chairman of Leavitt Partners Board of Directors, delivered a lecture for the Public Affairs Lecture Series.

His lecture was centered around the lessons he learned over the course of his continuing career in public service. He quoted Mark Twain saying, “If you hold a cat by the tail, you’ll learn lessons you cannot learn any other way.”

McKeown shared how his experience as a 7th and 8th grade teacher showed him that the system of education needed to do better to accommodate the needs of the students.

He also emphasized the importance of communicating ideas clearly and effectively. He said, “your ability to speak clearly to people is essential.”

When recounting his experience running for Mayor of Salt Lake City, he explained to students that raising your hand to volunteer for hard things will end up connecting you with people that will be an important force in your life. McKeown’s campaign for mayor led him to work as chief of staff for Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and serve as senior counselor and chief of staff to Administrator Leavitt at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among many other notable accomplishments.

He closed by sharing his guiding principle of always striving to make a difference in the lives of the people he serves and works with.

Thank you, Rich McKeown, for sharing your experiences and wisdom with us.



Political Science Poster Conference 2017


On Wednesday, December 13, 2017, from noon to 3 PM, The First Annual Political Science “Student Poster Conference” took place in the Garden Court of the Wilkinson Center. In a well-attended event open to all BYU students and faculty, sixty-one (61) Political Science students presented extensive research on timely topics condensed into elaborate, well-designed, informative 3’ X 4’ posters related to courses taught by Professors Goodliffe, Beesley, Monson and Preece. Topics ranged from: The State of Small Business in American, to Gendered Federal Finance Aid Use; from Gun Control to China as the solution to North Korea to Parenthood and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Professor John Holbein judged the poster conference, and he went through all 60+ posters, awarding the following prizes:

1st place ($300): Connor Kreutz, Does Endorser Gender Affect Candidate Electability?

2nd place ($200): Matt Easton, Can Conservatives Find Love?

3rd place ($100): Mandi Eatough, Congress and The Gendered Benefits of Social Media in Elections

Congratulations to all participants and winners. Because of its success and pedagogical usefulness, Professor Jay Goodliffe and the Political Science Department plan to expand the Conference again next Fall, 2018.

Student Spotlight: Alessandra Carbajal

alessandraAlessandra Carbajal is a junior from Honduras studying Political Science with an emphasis in American Politics.

Between November 8th and 11th, 2017, Alessandra attended the “Future Women in Government Conference” in Washington, D.C., a once in a lifetime opportunity, she reported. She had the chance to attend many different panels that addressed the healthcare problems that women are currently facing in this country. Most importantly, she got to attend a series of panels alongside female state legislators from all across the nation, who are key players in creating legislation that best addresses these issues. Alessandra was assigned two mentors, State Senators Bollier from Kansas, and Harris from Nevada. Both of them gave her their personal contact information so she can reach out to them whenever she needs anything. As she prepares to go to Law School and to move on to a professional field, the connections she found by attending this conference will prove to be extremely helpful, she said.  She is grateful that she was able to attend the Women in Government Conference, and is confident that if this opportunity arises for other students, they will find the experience to be equally rewarding. Alessandra received funding to attend from the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.

Alessandra’s research interests include public opinion and public policy, as well as American campaigns and elections.

After graduation, Alessandra would like to pursue a J.D./Ph.D. in American Politics. She enjoys traveling to new places, hiking and spending time with her family.

BYU Women in Politics Opening Social and Faculty Event


On Thursday, September 21, 2017, BYU’s Women in Politics conducted their opening social in the Tanner Building, with refreshments, a slide presentation, and many enthusiastic participants. Then on October 19 at 6 PM, the BYU Women in Politics club and organization met for a “Ted-Talk” style presentation with five female BYU professors offering fascinating lectures. They met in the beautiful seventh-floor conference room in the Tanner Building, Room 710 TNRB, which was full with over 100 people. Each professor gave summaries of their recent research related to women in the world today: participants included Dr. Celeste Beesley, Political Science; Dr. Stacey Shaw, Social Work; Dr. Diana Duan, History; Professor D. Carolina Nunez, JD, Law; and Professor Carrie Moore, News Media. Conducted by current WIP President Eliza Riley, and past WIP President Rachel Finlayson, Women in Politics is an amazing organization that inspires BYU students to become involved, both here on campus and in their future lives. Congratulations to the leaders and members of BYU Women in Politics.

Dr. Beesley spoke about her research examining Federal Direct Investment and job security of female sweatshop workers in India.

Dr. Duan shared her experience growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution and how her life experiences have taught her to find her political voice because politics affects all aspects of life.

Dr. Nunez from BYU Law dispelled immigration myths that have been propagated from politicians from both sides of the political spectrum. Dr. Shaw shared her research on working with refugees and other vulnerable populations, drawing on her experiences with the IRC at Columbia and in Malaysia.

Finally, last but not least, Dr. Carrie Moore from the Communications Dept. and News Media at BYU shared her insights on and encouragement for more qualified women (and men of course) to enter the news media and political arena and find their voices.

Afterwards, WIP sold/distributed T-shirts and mingled/networked with professors.

These female professors are inherently inspiring to students because they are living proof that we can hope to serve our national and international communities on a broader scale. It helped students discover that “If you can see it, you can be it.”



Featured by The New York Times: Professors Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope

Research conducted by BYU Professors Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope was featured prominently in an article in the New York Times on September 14, 2017.

Professor Michael Barber

Professor Michael Barber

Professor Jeremy Pope

Professor Jeremy Pope










The aforementioned article was written by New York Times Opinion and Contributing Op-Ed writer Thomas B. Edsall entitled: “Trump Says Jump. His Supporters Ask, How High?”

The article stated that three prominent teams of US political scholars, including Barber and Pope, all agree in their recent studies that, “politics is less a competition of ideas and more a struggle between two competing teams.”

According to Barber and Pope in their recent paper “Does Party Trump Ideology? Disentangling Party and Ideology in America,” many Republican voters are, “malleable to the point of innocence, and self-reported expressions of ideological fealty are quickly abandoned for policies that—once endorsed by a well-known party leader—run contrary to that expressed ideology.”

The Barber-Pope study suggests that, for many Republicans, partisan identification is more a tribal affiliation than an ideological commitment.

While elites – elected officials and party activists—are ideologically polarized, the best the general public “can manage is a kind of tribal partisanship that does not really reflect the content of the elite discussion.”

Pope wrote: “Citizens pick a team, but they don’t naturally think like the team leadership does. And when Trump tells Republicans to think in a new way, lots of people happily adopt that new position because they were never that committed to the old ideas anyway. They’re just committed to the label.”

In other words, Trump’s strongest supporters are likely to back him despite his violations of Republican orthodoxy.

For more information regarding how the study was conducted and its subsequent results, read the article following the link below:


Professor Donna Lee Bowen’s Convocation Address


On August 18, 2017, Professor Donna Lee Bowen from the BYU Department of Political Science offered the Convocation Address for Summer Commencement for the College of Family Home and Social Sciences in the Marriot Center.

She spoke about integrity, and how strong leadership can help confront tyranny. She said, “Good leaders radiate their integrity in every action. They admit mistakes, ask forgiveness, and seek to abide as closely as possible to their responsibilities.”

The power of good leaders cannot be calculated, she said, and used George Washington as an example, discussing how he voluntarily relinquished power after two terms, instead of seizing power to become a dictator, thereby creating a precedence that continues to this day for our nation’s governance.  “Humility is the key,” she said.

Congratulations to Donna Lee on an inspiring convocation address.

Attached please find a full copy of her address:

Donna Lee Bowen FHSS Convocation Address 2017

August Valedictorian: Davin Guinn


Congratulations to Davin Guinn, our valedictorian for August convocation from Political Science.

Davin is the son of Brad and Haley Guinn and grew up in Murrieta, California, as the oldest of six children. He served a mission in Pueblo, Mexico and dealt with a rigorous student-athlete lifestyle as a member of the BYU men’s basketball team. From walk-on to scholarship athlete, he earned a spot on the WCC All-Academic Team for the 2016-2017 season. That same year, he was selected as the recipient of the team’s most Inspirational Player Award.

Davin has since redirected his competitive drive toward his aspirations as a prospective JD candidate at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, where he plans to continue his education in the fall.

Davin worked as a law clerk for a civil litigation firm in Temecula, California, and recently completed an internship with the legal department at Vivint Smart Home.

He attributes much of his success to support from his family—specifically his parents and sisters. He also loves playing the piano.

Davin gave a wonderful speech at the August convocation on August 18, 2017, wherein he said: “we are capable of adaptation, but firm in our values,” and, “adversity will not deter our contribution to the world.” Best wishes to Davin from all.